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The Holiday Disaster

What she thought would be a fun trip to see her family in Texas ended in a highway disaster.

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The Holiday Disaster

Bobby and Tracey Shanks in 1994.

Bobby and Tracey Shanks in 1994.

Photo courtesy of Tracey Shanks

Bobby and Tracey Shanks in 1994.

Photo courtesy of Tracey Shanks

Photo courtesy of Tracey Shanks

Bobby and Tracey Shanks in 1994.

Jada Mjigal, Reporter

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Standing in the bright, narrow closet, she looked past Bobby’s clothes and the gun safe to find her favorite flannel dress from Victoria’s Secret.

Changing out of her Sunday’s best and into comfort, she gathered the suitcases filled with colorful dresses, shoes and toys for her three grandchildren and headed for the door. Bobby followed behind her, carrying the brand-new $4,000 bike he would soon be gifting to himself for Christmas.

While sitting in the car, they took one last glance at the house they have lived in the past 30 years before leaving for their annual trip to see their grandkids. Bobby took her hand and together they prayed for a safe trip as they left Oklahoma and for Texas for the holidays.

Driving down I-35 in Gainesville, their black ’95 custom Chevy van was only an hour and twenty minutes away from the final destination. She gripped the steering wheel and observed the thriving outlet mall, that now in 2018 is nothing more than a large, empty building.

The comfortable warmness she felt inside the four doors of their favorite car was abruptly interrupted by a brown Subaru Forester.

“I love you, Tracey, it’s going to be okay,” said Bobby as he sat where the roof used to be and tried his best to comfort the girl he’s liked since freshman year of high school. First responders soon came to the car’s aid. They cut the flannel dress and made sure there weren’t any visible damages that would cause immediate harm. While making her way to the hospital transportation from the totaled van, Tracey saw the owner of the Subaru Forester’s brain on the road.

Thinking the other car contained nothing but dead people, the first responders airlifted her to the nearest hospital. Her eye was misplaced and she had a broken bone above the right side of her face’s cheek. Sitting in nothing but her undergarments and two thin blankets she was freezing. “I think I’m going to die,” she said. The first responders looked at each other with worry in their eyes. “Why would you say that?” said one of the men. She looked at the two people who were fully dressed in warm clothes and told them that if the injuries don’t kill her, she was going to freeze to death.   

When arriving at the hospital Tracey was immediately taken care of but there were no fatal or permanent injuries. She was resting in her hospital bed when she asked if there was any food she could have. She doesn’t eat when traveling to avoid car sickness, and now it’s been far too long since her last meal. The nurse brought her an old sandwich and a bag of Lay’s potato chips. The food was gone in less than five minutes.  

Bobby was left on I-35. He was not injured in any way. While the last cop car was leaving he asked if he could get a ride into town. Leaving the tow truck to take the crushed bike and Christmas presents, he climbed in the front seat and hoped his wife was safe and in good health at the hospital.

 

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The Holiday Disaster